By Jake Donovan
Arnold Khegai (16-0-1, 10KOs) remained unbeaten but continues to be a work in progress.
The 27-year old super bantamweight cruised to an eight-round shutout of Russia’s Vladimir Tikhonov (17-2, 10KOs) in the opening bout of a Showtime-televised tripleheader Friday evening in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Scores were 80-72 across the board for Khagei, a Ukrainian product now based out of Philadelphia (Pa.) who was making his ShoBox debut.
Whether or not he made a lasting impression is all in the eye of the beholder. Khagei was well in control throughout the contest, not showing any respect for Tikhonov’s punching power—or lack thereof—as he was willing to take one to land one or two of his own.
The formula worked throughout the contest, though the absence of a functional jab was likely the difference between an explosive knockout finish and the eight-round sweep he ultimately scored.
Tikhonov has now lost twice within his last three starts, both defeats coming in the United States and live on Showtime. The 29-year old southpaw suffered a knockout loss last August in Detroit, Mich., picking up a confidence-restoring win at home in Russia last October.
Before the cameras began rolling, rising prospects Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis and Brandun Lee both made quick work of their overmatched opponents.
California’s Lee (15-0, 13KOs) needed just 30 seconds to pick up his sixth straight knockout. Two knockdowns paved the way for his latest hit, this coming over upside down clubfighter Francisco Medal (13-21).
Ennis (23-0, 21KOs) went slightly longer in getting the job done, halting Franklin Mammi (23-6-1) at the end of round one. The blue-chip prospect from Philadelphia fought for the first time in nine months, as he remains saddled with legal issues in lengthy dispute between former business partners Chris Middendorf and Cameron Dunkin.
It didn’t prevent the 22-year old from picking up his 13th consecutive knockout. The good news for those who look forward to seeing him more often is that his next fight will come in six weeks, as he is due to return on Oct. 5
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox